tablet for cheep! wurks reel gud!

If you don’t have a tablet device yet, and you don’t want to drop the $499 on an iPad, here’s a cheaper way. BestBuy is blowing out their massive stock of HP TouchPads for $99 a pop for the low-end 16GB model.

HP launched the Touchpad as an iPad competitor, but it failed to gain traction. Reportedly, BestBuy only managed to sell 10% of their stock of a quarter million TouchPads so far. Now that HP has killed the TouchPad, BestBuy is getting rid of inventory. I’ve played with the TouchPad at Best Buy before, and while it’s no iPad, webOS is actually kind of nice. And hell–for $99, it’s practically an impulse buy now.

(They’re sold out online, so you’ll have to hit your local BestBuy and see if they still have any in stock.)

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probably my last entry ever on borders books.

This article on the decline and fall of Borders—and the management decisions that were the direct cause of them—is a very good read, and a glimpse into the corporate mindset I’ve come to loathe after working under it for a while as a tech monkey.

The money paragraph deals with Borders’ absolutely bone-headed decision to outsource their online business to their competitor Amazon.com:

In 2001, Borders would go on to partner with Amazon.com, allowing the online book retailer to handle their internet sales for them, if you can believe it. There’s a photo of Jeff Bezos and then-Borders president and CEO Greg Josefowicz shaking hands to celebrate the partnership. Josefowicz has weatherman hair and a broad smile, and he’s beaming past the camera with the cocksure giddiness of a guy who thinks he just got rid of all his problems because he sold his dumb old cow for a handful of really cool magic beans. But when you pull your eyes away from Josefowicz’s superheroic chin, you notice that Jeff Bezos is smiling directly into the camera with keen shark eyes. His smile is more relaxed, a little more candid than Josefowicz’s photo-op-ready grin. It’s the face of someone who’s thinking, I finally got you, you son of a bitch.

In the last year, I’ve split my new book purchases evenly between hardcopy from the local Borders, and online and ebook orders via Amazon.com and B&N.  Now that Borders is history, and there isn’t a major bookstore left within 75 miles of here, it will be more like 90% via ebooks on my Kindle, and 10% via impulse buys at the local indie book store in West Leb. (What can I say? Getting books I want in 60 seconds via 3G while watching the kids at the playground really appeals to my Instant Gratification gland, and the Kindle is a slick device that makes it easy to haul around a stack of books.)

the end for borders.

And that’s it for Borders. All remaining 399 stores are closing, some possibly as early as the coming weekend.

The one in West Leb is going to leave a big hole in the storefront lineup on 11A (and, incidentally, in the book store variety around here—it was the only big bookstore in a sixty-mile radius, the next B&N being in Manchester.)

So long, Borders. I’ve written a fair amount of words for the last few novels there. Now I’ll have to find a new hangout for my weekly Dadcations…

addicted to what now?

You know what I can’t stand to hear about anymore? That we Americans are addicted to oil. It’s a smarmy term  that tries to couch an economic and environmental argument in pathological terms.

I’m not addicted to oil. I’m addicted to being able to drive into town on my own schedule. I’m addicted to being able to haul home a week’s worth of groceries with two little kids in tow without having to wait for the fucking bus with eighty pounds of filled plastic bags in my hands. (That’s disregarding the fact that I live out in the sticks, and the nearest bus stop is four miles away, which is one hell of a hike with the aforementioned two little kids and week’s worth of groceries.)

I don’t give a shit what kind of substance I have to put in the tank of the minivan to feed that particular addiction.  I don’t care about oil. If my minivan ran on distilled cow piss, I’d fill up with distilled cow piss. If they ever come up with an electric minivan that goes the speed limit on the Interstate, accelerates to highway speeds in less time than a geologic epoch, and doesn’t need to be recharged every fifty miles with electricity that comes from a coal-powered plant anyway, I’ll gladly buy one of those and deep-six the old combustion engine.

Until then, shut the fuck up about my addiction to oil. It does nobody any good to try and debate economic and logistical necessities while using terminology to imply people who disagree with your view are mentally ill.

so it goes.

Borders has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The linked article mentioned that borders didn’t even have an e-commerce site until 2008, almost ten years after Amazon started theirs. (For five or six years prior to Borders.com, Borders actually had Amazon do the e-commerce for them.  Talk about a bone-headed management move.)  With visionary management like that, it’s no wonder they ended up with over a billion bucks of debt.

I’m waiting for an official list of store closures to see if we’re going to lose the West Lebanon location, which is the only big bookstore in a sixty-mile radius.  On a plus side, I’ve been checking out more of the local independent booksellers in the area.

Update: Here’s the official list of closings. Looks like West Leb has ducked the hatchet, but the Borders down in Nashua is going.

ruh-roh, borders.

Looks like Borders is going to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy as early as Monday or Tuesday.  They’ll be closing 200 of their stores, with an option to close 50 more if needed.  (Borders has 600-odd stores nationwide.)

We have aBorders locally in West Leb.  It’s where I usually spend a good chunk of my Saturday Dadcations.  Wonder if that one’s one of the 200 that will get the axe.

If you have a Borders gift card, now would be a good time to use it, I think.

grabbing what you can, because you can.

Verizon now carries the iPhone.  Unlike AT&T, they offer unlimited data plans, but there’s a bit of a catch.  If you’re among their top 5% of data users, they reserve the right to throttle your bandwidth for the rest of your billing period (presumably after you’ve reached a certain data download threshold.)

This is an interesting question for those who favor equal access at equal cost for services like healthcare.  If Customer A and Customer B both pay for the “unlimited” data plan, and Customer B uses ten times as much bandwidth as Customer A, is it fair to impose such a limitation on Customer B to make sure Customer A gets his share of the bandwidth?  Conversely, is it fair to Customer A to be paying exactly what Customer B is paying, while only using a tenth of the resources?  Whose interests have precedence here—Customer A’s right to get his fair share of the resources, or Customer B’s right to use the promised “unlimited” data as he sees fit?

Now, Verizon is a private business, and they can set whatever terms they want.  Customers have the choice to either purchase data plans from them, or go to the competition.  Think about your answers to the questions above.  What if it wasn’t a private company, but a public service, bankrolled by tax money?  Is your answer the same?

When you’re talking about stuff like universal health care, you have to sooner or later acknowledge the problem of unequal use of resources.  If we all pay into the tax pot to the same proportional degree, what is to be done about those 5% of users who use a hugely disproportionate slice of the services?  Some may need them, some may just use them because “I ‘m paying for it, and I want to get my money’s worth out of it.”  When you remove the financial penalty associated with frivolous excessive use of a public resource, then there’s no incentive to limit the use of that resource.

A public system of services doesn’t mean you magically have an unlimited supply of a commodity.  Public and private entities alike have to deal with excessive consumption.  In both systems, you have to ultimately put someone in charge to decide what’s excessive and what isn’t, and come up with disincentives for the “getting my money’s worth” customers.  What you’re doing in both cases is rationing the (limited) supply of bandwidth/MRIs/whatever. 

That’s the snag you hit when you look at a finite and limited resource like health care, and you want to put together a system that dispenses that resource equally and fairly.  I dislike the anecdote-driven arguments from the pro-universal health care folks who share stories of people dying because they couldn’t afford to go see a doctor, but who hardly ever acknowledge that yes, even with universal health care, you have to have a pencil pusher deciding who gets that MRI or cancer treatment first…or whether you need it at all.